Lithia Motors (LAD) Upgraded to Hold by Zacks Investment Research

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Lithia Motors is expected to benefit from the frequent acquisitions and store openings it has been undertaking. In August, the company acquired Downtown Los Angeles Auto Group (“DTLA”). DTLA, which comprises of stores of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen situated in downtown Los Angeles and a Nissan store in Carson. Also, its regular share repurchases programs and cash dividend payments will boost the shareholders’ value. Lithia Motors has also provided a strong fiscal 2017 guidance. However, high merchandise inventory, a continuous fall of used car prices in all markets and declining sales volume of new vehicles are few concerns currently faced by the company.”

A number of other brokerages also recently weighed in on LAD. KeyCorp reissued a “buy” rating and set a $130.00 target price (up previously from $119.00) on shares of Lithia Motors in a research note on Wednesday, October 4th. Berenberg Bank initiated coverage on shares of Lithia Motors in a research note on Wednesday, October 4th. They set a “hold” rating and a $126.00 target price for the company. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $116.29.

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) traded down $1.23 during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $115.45. 361,500 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 266,140. The company has a market capitalization of $2,881.40, a P/E ratio of 14.03, a P/E/G ratio of 0.98 and a beta of 1.72. Lithia Motors has a 12-month low of $80.88 and a 12-month high of $123.50. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.96, a current ratio of 1.21 and a quick ratio of 0.26.

Lithia Motors (NYSE:LAD) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 25th. The company reported $2.18 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.37 by ($0.19). The business had revenue of $2.69 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.62 billion. Lithia Motors had a net margin of 2.14% and a return on equity of 21.02%. Lithia Motors’s revenue was up 18.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $2.06 EPS. sell-side analysts expect that Lithia Motors will post 8.34 earnings per share for the current year.

In other Lithia Motors news, Director Sidney B. Deboer sold 3,051 shares of Lithia Motors stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $113.25, for a total value of $345,525.75. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 433 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $49,037.25. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Sidney B. Deboer sold 65,711 shares of Lithia Motors stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $121.77, for a total transaction of $8,001,628.47. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 1,421 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $173,035.17. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 96,429 shares of company stock valued at $11,587,311 in the last three months. 7.85% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of LAD. Koch Industries Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Lithia Motors during the second quarter valued at about $201,000. Copeland Capital Management LLC grew its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 1.4% during the third quarter. Copeland Capital Management LLC now owns 164,869 shares of the company’s stock valued at $19,835,000 after buying an additional 2,204 shares during the last quarter. Bridge City Capital LLC grew its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 8.7% during the third quarter. Bridge City Capital LLC now owns 22,041 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,652,000 after buying an additional 1,763 shares during the last quarter. Boston Partners grew its holdings in shares of Lithia Motors by 2.7% during the third quarter. Boston Partners now owns 545,701 shares of the company’s stock valued at $65,653,000 after buying an additional 14,313 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Wasatch Advisors Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Lithia Motors during the third quarter valued at about $6,419,000. 98.47% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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Lithia Motors Company Profile

Lithia Motors, Inc is an operator of automotive franchises and a retailer of new and used vehicles and related services. As of February 28, 2017, it offered 30 brands of new vehicles and all brands of used vehicles in 154 stores in the United States and online at Lithia.com, DCHauto.com and CarboneCars.com.

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